“Murder is easy, as long as you don’t make it look like a murder.” He said. Using his left hand to scratch his crotch fervently, in a dog like frenzy when it’s trying to bury a bone.
“So, you mean that it’s easy to commit a murder as long as you make it look like an accident, suicide or illness.” I spoke, seriously concerned about his hygiene while he ardently moved on to scratch his butt cheeks now, a look of relief stole his face as his lips parted slightly in bliss. He then cleared his throat and spoke, “Took you long enough to catch up, detective.” He looked at me from head to toe, his expression, disdainful. As if his East London lodging was any better than my Irish accent.
“In that case, Mr. Holmes, if the death of Dr. Watson is not an accident; I’d be loathe to tell you this, but you would be considered the primary suspect. Because you were the last person to see him.” I said.
“Also, I am loathe to tell you, Detective, while I might be your primary suspect, I am also your greatest ally, because I am after all ‘the Sherlock Holmes’.” He said that while tipping his hat and awkwardly itching his long beard with his right hand. He coughed up something awful, a ball of mucus with traces of red and removed his tell tale hat that looked like it had tiny holes burrowed by very hungry mice.
“You see Detective….” he continued, looking at me and murmuring about my Irish origins. His scraggly beard more grey than black, moved with a life of its own, as though it housed its own eco system right there.
“Boyle…I am Detective Boyle.” I offered.
“Yes Detective Boyle…A common Irish ancestry, I presume. You see Dr. Watson here had invited me over for tea this evening, while his wife Mary and their son has been visiting some old crone of an aunt in Watford. We had an hour-long tete-a-tete about this and that, in which he mentioned that just last week he had cleaned his shotgun. Therefore, I honestly don’t think he would feel the need to clean it again.”
“Then maybe, he did decide to shoot himself in the head, Mr. Holmes.” I helped this ridiculous derivation and prayed that this yesterday’s detective, this downtrodden man would only get out of my way and let me do my job. I looked at Dr. Watson’s body that lay immobile on the carpet, an inch long hole above his brow and a large pool of coagulated blood under the back of his head.
“Oh no…no…no Detective Boyle, my friend Watson here went to the war!” I failed to understand what was I supposed to infer from the emphatic statement. Misery bit at my feet and nudged me to push this yesterday’s annoyance out of my way. He may have been a legend two decades ago, but now, he was nothing but a homeless bloke, living on drugs and bread crumbs.
“I’m painfully aware of that, Mr. Holmes.” I said. Barely concealing my sarcasm, everyone who was anyone in Britain, knew the history of these two.
“Well, then you must know that he also briefly, served as a spy for the British allied army. And every single spy then was given a tablet of cyanide. Should they be captured in the hands of enemy soldiers, they had a choice to end their lives before delving in any national secrets.”
“And your point is….?” I asked.
“You see Watson has always kept his cyanide tablet hidden in this book, this book, this biography of Hitler. Ironic, huh.” He said as he limped and guided me towards the library and took out the book.
True to his word there was a tablet of cyanide. Hidden between page 165 and 166. The indentation on the pages, made it ample clear that the tablet had been hidden there for a long time.
“Then why do you think Detective Boyle, would Watson go through the trouble of shooting himself in the head when he had the choice of an instant, bloodless, death?” He reasoned.
And believe it or not, his point made sense. Because given a choice, even I would prefer cyanide to a bullet in the head, if I wanted to off myself.
“So, Mr. Holmes, who do you think, murdered your friend Dr Watson?” I asked. After gobbling up my ego, which unfortunately for me was the size of elephant droppings.
“For starters…whoever the murderer was, was left handed.” He claimed; his nose up in the air, and his dirty index finger on the tip of his pursed lips.
“And how do you know that…?” I asked.
“Elementary my dear…. uhhhh” he waved his hands, trying to recall my name. “Boyle!” He said triumphantly, clapping me on the back.
“You see the bullet hole,” he held me and dragged me towards the body, walking like a man whose legs don’t their master, his hand gripped my shoulders, tight, and black soot lightly rubbed against my white shirtsleeves.
“The angle of the shot. If Watson had held it up, being right handed it would have angled right above his right brow. The same effect would be there if the killer were left handed. No matter how straight they aim, the force of a shot gun would invariably shift the gun point slightly opposite to their dominant hand.” He demonstrated that with, an empty bottle of Jack Daniels, that magically appeared from his left pocket.
“Well, that’s a start..” I said.
“Deputy Rayner, please make a list of all Dr. Watsons contacts who are left handed.” I barked my orders and pointedly looked at Rayner to ensure he whipped out his diary as soon as my last words were done.
“That won’t be necessary Detective, with a little bit of investigation, I am sure we will be able to pin down the killer right here.” Holmes spoke, his hand back again at scratching his testicles with great delight. Much to my chagrin, because there is one thing I do not like, it is anyone encouraging my subordinates into insubordination.
And then he moved to scratching his head this time and flicking large flakes of dandruff on the spotless maroon carpet.
“Why don’t you let me decide that, Mr. Holmes? Now tell me, what else have you got.” I said.
“Well, do you see these depressions on the carpet. Just a foot away from dear Watsons body. Well looks like this is where our killer stood and shot my friend.” He said. I bent over the carpet, and ran my hand across the depressions, one deeper than the other.
“Looks like you are right Mr. Holmes. But these depressions give us no clue except that the killer was wearing shoes.” I added.
“Oh but they do…. Dear Boyle. They do. Don’t you see, the right foot depression is deeper than the left foot? What does that tell you, Detective?”
“Umm nothing…. Oh wait…” I attacked my brains harder. Trying not to disappoint this legendary sleuth. “The killer was standing with his weight on one foot?” I asked.
“Excellent, you are catching up. The killer could not distribute his weight on both his legs equally and that’s why, his right leg took maximum of his weight.” He concluded. Smiling brilliantly.
“Deputy Rayner, please make a list of all Dr. Watsons contacts who have a problem with their left foot.” I spoke louder this time. My voice booming with a hope that Holmes would not cut me short.
“Anything else, Mr. Holmes?” I asked, trying to greedily lap up any information I could get from him. I couldn’t have hoped for a better case; the murder of Dr. Watson, Sherlock Holmes helping me. I would be in news, in no time.
He was bent over the carpet and closely scrutinizing.
“Come over here Detective. I think you should see this.” He called out.
I bent over next to him, he reeked of garbage and it was a relief that I did not throw up.
“See these white flakes, I’m guessing it is dandruff.” He took the flakes in his index finger and thumb, pinched it, then to my utter disgust put one in his mouth, swirled it around his tongue and gulped it down with the last drops of golden liquid from his Jack Daniels bottle. And then he burped, the loudest burp I had ever heard.
“Yes definitely dandruff.” He turned around towards me and faced me. His blackened teeth, shining through his own chapped lips.
“Our killer also has dandruff….” He concluded.
“Deputy Rayner…” I screamed aloud. “Make a list…Wait a minute.” I stared at Holmes.
“Are you fucking taking a piss at me, Holmes?!” I asked.
“What do you mean, Detective?” He asked, his eyes looking at me, innocent.
“You are left handed, you limp on your left leg and you have a raging case of dandruff. Are you the bloody killer?” I spoke pointing my finger at him. I felt like this man was taking me for a jolly good ride just for fucks sake.
“Took you long enough to catch up, Detective.” Holmes said holding out his hand. Waiting to be handcuffed.
“What…But why?” I asked. Clearly confused. I still kept waiting for him to burst into a garrulous laughter and Watson getting up and smiling quietly. There had been too many of those prank shows on the radio lately.
“He refused to pay for my cocaine anymore.” His head hung, regret conquering every inch on his face like the boils of a leper. And I stood there, dumbstruck, clearly hesitating to handcuff the murderer.